tv Charlie Rose PBS November 9, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am EST
producing it with some other wonderful people. and it was brought to my attention t was at the premier in new york, my films had just startsed to come out. they said congratulations, you just got an offer for a broadway show. >> rose: and you said? >> i said what? because it had always been a dream of mine to do broadway. but i thought the timing was strange because i was just starting to make movies and i thought do i really want to go do theatre. i read it on the pain and was so moved by the story and i met with moisette who was so-- i love his brain. he's very intelligent and he also want-- had a different story to tell than we had seen before with the play so i immediately signed on. >> rose: why do you think this play has such legs, such longevity? >> i think it is very relevant. because it was so modern i think when it was written. it's about a woman who is defined by the men in her
life from the beginning. her father defines her. her self-esteem is defined by that and then by her suitor and then at the end she defines herself and decides who she is and i find that to be very relevant, yesterday, today, 30 years from now. and continues to be performed. >> rose: tell me about her father. >> i think he's a man who represents a time in our cultural history at a precipice. you know, he's a victorian construct, you know, where the man was all it was his house. they were his children. it was, you know t was a very patriarchal time. and in addition to an insane time in terms of morees and manners that were opposed upon everybody. but sloper is-- represents i
think a person who is being confronted with a daughter and a young man who are going to be representatives of the next wave. and we have to think of 1850 to 12 years later, it was the civil war. and the gold rush was happening and the west was indeed opening up. he has a line in the play where he says hear the west is opening up. many men are turns their eyes in that direction. it was-- he was kind of holding on to something that his time was up. >> rose: and dan, your character? >> well, as david says morris is representing this new wave, almost this post industrial or post industrialization wave of young men who were prepared to get their hands dirty, work and wanted to enjoy the beautiful things in life, almost a kind of-- and james
is writing washington square in 1880 looking back to 1850, himself sort of choosing that distance of 30 years to explore the changes that have been made in their society. and you know, the doctor is justified in some his suspicions of this man but in another way it's a reaction against, you know, any kind of man. >> rose: i read that you wanted to sort of explore the complexity, of in fact, of his attraction. >> well, i think there is something that recurs in james, something that james understands very, very well is that these two things aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. that you can be in love with someone and their things and their lifestyle. and i think there is a certain interpretation of morris where he comes in as a twiddling villain and is just out for the cash. and that is certainly one way of looking at him. but i think in conversation right from the beginning when i met with him, we looked at the ambiguity there and that there are some very, very attractive qualities about catherine.
she is not a hideous kroture that crawled out from under a rock. she say little plain but an openness, honesty and beauty to that. >> rose: were a lot of rehearsals here? did you sit for readings for a long time? >> yeah, we were at the table for the better part of a we can before we got up to our feet. >> rose: what does that accomplish? >> a lot. it, you know, we get the vision. we start hearing it out loud without having to commit it to any kind of form yet. and you dig underneath the surface. sometimes you may dig too deep. that was pie tendency. but stuff comes out of it in respect of where we are in our culture, you look at something that's that old and say well, can we apply this to this and does this make sense, is this resonant, whatever. so you throw it out there on the table and you start playing around. it's like okay, let's change
the puzzle pieces around and see if it fits. what actually is going to be the shape of this thing that we want to, you know, hone. and i love being at the table because it's just, once you get on your feet things start to, you know-- . >> rose: do you know your lines when you're at the table or are you just reading the script or is that part of the process of bringing them in. >> that is sort of the process. >> rose: you have found the balance between film and theser? >> i hope so. >> rose: or did it find you. >> i guess it sort of found me because i started out with theatre, yeah. it's a tricky-- . >> rose: you never had a mind you that would not always be coming back. >> no, i actually look to come back, you know. >> rose: you wait for the kind of thing like this to come. >> yeah, for sure. because it's where you actually get to reconfigure your nuts and bolts, you know, that may have been stripped by some other, you know. >> rose: what dow mean by nuts and bolts. >> well, the technique, actually the process of
actingment you sit at a table and you build sort of an organic team around something. and film is a different beast. and television certainly is a different creature. which i am not quite sure i understand yet. but theatre is, it seems to be a safer place because you are in sort of a lab with your-- . >> rose: and you can sperm every day. >> and you get to experiment every day, even when are you performing too. >> you get to ask a lot of questions. i think that is one of the thing from that table read on to its feet, five weeks we had of just asking questions which on a film set are you lucky if you get a week. >> rose: questions like what? >> well, you know, someone-- directors always say two things, either loud or quieter, that is what they hear more often. >> with this, particularly with these three characters, there is an interesting shifting moral ambiguity to the moral and there was a try angulation that we had t it was still playing, figuring out and i think
each day we could come in and ask questions about each of those corners. did you decide how you wanted to play catherine. do you want to hear him out first. >> definitely. we sat down to meet before i signed on to this. i wanted to know his views of the play. and he didn't want it to be a revenge. he didn't want it to end when the woman becomes empowered, she becomes bitter and angry. because she's still a victim of her past so she's not really free from that, if she is, this kind of revenge and hurting everyone. so that was something that he said that i really investigated to and i thought that was an interesting take on it, that perhaps i hadn't seen before. >> but you also said you found an innate connection to katherine. >> yeah. which is hard for some to
imagine do you agree? >> i am a very -- >> i don't want to be off -- >> well, the line, let's go with it. a hundred are prettier and a thousand more clever. >> that's exactly. >> the only person who says that is the father. >> right. >> and he says she is dull and-- everything he says about katherine before she rides on stage, she comes on stage and proves it wrong. because she is very witty. she's smart. she tells a funny story and as soon as he comes back into the room she then proves him right. so we realize paps katherine isn't that. perhaps it's a result of the relationship between the two of them. and that's also very interesting for me as an actor to play. >> rose: you've also said that her honesty and sort of the way, that honesty sometimes is misinterpreted as a lack of cleverness. >> yeah, because you know when someone is socially
clever they're very good at lying. they're very good at hiding how they feel if they're uncomfortable. and there's something about katherine where she is so open that when he sends her flowers she says yes, thank you, they were very frefernlt i mean who says flowers were fresh but there's something like in her honesty when she got the flowers she thought immediately these are fresh. >> rose: there is a call of flowers being fresh. >> but people don't normally speak in that way. i really thought that was beautiful. and open. >> rose: what's her love for rris based on? >> i think he's the first one to give her water. you know f someone is a flower, he really is the first one to say oh, when the father says oh, why don't you have any musical talent, morris says she has a great appreciation for music and that is a talent
in itself. when someone all of a sudden starts to see your good qualities it just makes you blossom and grow. so she goes from seeing the mirror that her father holds up to her, to then seeing what morris holds up to her. and then finally at the end going no, i don't need that to have my own self-esteem and person. >> rose: how does her father's views towards her change in this play? >> i don't think so lz you do not think so. >> i don't think so. he begins to see the sort of the cracks in the porcelain, i think. but he's so trapped that he can't quite allow himself to acknowledge that. because the mirror that jessica just mentioned is the mirror of her mother that this man has, i think he shut down since the death of the mother. and that's been his window. >> rose: so he sees her
through the prism of the mother. >> of what her mother was and what all, what he expects a woman to be in that society. >> rose: and if it was a great relationships that's understandable. >> yeah. and it was a quick relationship too. i mean it was cut off very quickly, you know, at her birth. so i think no, i don't think he does change that much in his perception of her. or at least he's not allowed the time to acknowledge it. >> rose: how do you describe the adaptation of this from the novel? >> i guess one of the impressive things about this adaptation ask how they have-- they've observed every dramatic moment in the novela. so they've taken every psychological conflict and you know, very, very neatly structured that. so there is a lot that is trimmed away. but in terms of character on character, psychological drama and you know what makes good theatre, and actually the structure of
the play is theatrically incredibly strong and there are elements that are mirrored, inverted. you get certain lines or actions that come back in the latter stage of the play and in other characters hands. the world is turned upside down. and this strong girl emerges from it. but theatrically it's a very, very smart adaptation. >> rose: james has always been able to capture the internal lives of his characters. was that enormously instructive for you in the character you wanted to create in katherine? >> yes. i mean it's tough because of course i read the novel. many times. >> rose: i assume you started there. >> yeah, i started with the play first. >> rose: oh really. >> when it was sent to me. >> rose: you read it. >> and then i started approaching through the novel. and hi some difficulty with james's view of the catherine in the novell. >> rose: what difficulty did you have. >> she really wasn't very clever.
and she really didn't have the spark that they had put in the play. and it was very cut and dry in the novell. like mrs. montgomerie morris's sister when she arrives to be-- to have the conversation with dr. sloper, the end of the conversation she cries out please don't let your daughter marry my brother. which basically tells everyone, okay, we know. and i found with the play they did a great job at making it much more complex. so i most-- i took the play or the novel for what it's worth but i mostly stuck with the play. >> rose: let's look at scenes here. the first one is where dr. sloper and morris argue over his intentions. here it is. >> doctor, don't you care to gratify your daughter? you enjoy the idea of making her miserable. >> i'm resigned to thinking me a tyrant for a few months. >> for a few months. >> or for a lifetime then. she may as well be miserable
that way as with you. >> sir, you're not polite sir. >> you argue too much. you push me too it. >> dr. sloper i have fallen in love with your daughter. i am not the kind of man you would choose for her and for good reason. i have committed every foley, every indiscretion a young man request fine, i have squandered an inher tenant, i have drunk widely, i confess. >> i'm acting in the capacity of a judge. >> i tell you these things myself, doctor because i love catherine. and because i have a great deal at stake. >> then you have lost it. >> no, sir. >> just as surely as if you placed your pittance on the losing number t is over. you have lost it. >> don't be too sure of that, sir. i believe in i say the words she will walk out of this house and follow me. >> you are inpertinent. >> but if i did not love your daughter as much as i do i should not have put up with the indignities you have offered me today. >> you have only to leave my house toes cape them. good day mr. towns end. >> good day, sir.
>> rose: when you watch that, what do you see? >> wow. >> rose: you have seen it before like this? >> no. >> rose: you haven't seen this video. >> no, no. >> it's strange to watch, isn't it. to watch-- . >> rose: i said to myself i have been watching this, they probably have seen this. >> i think it's because, you know, usually when we see t is a film or a television clip. it's much softer and to see the performances magnified like this -- >> it that was a pretty lively little moment. >> it was. >> rose: if you two were doing that on film, how would it be different. >> it would probably take four hours. >> rose: to get it done. >> because of shots. >> rose: but how would,-- not that. but what takes place between you, the quality and the tone of the conversation. >> that's a really good question. because who knows if it would be as sort of engorged. >> rose: projected. >> projected, yeah. because there would be
close-ups. there would be different angles and everything like that. and it really would be the tone and pace and everything would be controlled not by us, but by the editor. >> there is the theatrical function of building to that crescendo in that we have to be speaking at such a volume that katherine hears it to come down the stairs and say why are you fighting. so you know, again talking about the structure of the play, one thing feeds neatly into another which in film, you could play, you could cut away and there would be katherine upstairs. >> her listening. >> yeah. >> you see things from her point of view more. >> rose: what is the best medium for telling stories. >> radio. >> rose: you love voice, don't you. >> well, when we talked about this this edward r. murrow thing, his resistance to television, or to the visual was that as soon as you put a visual on top of a sound, you skew the meaning. and that is not his words but that is sort of my -- >> it pure ageation, radio
the actor in the studio is wearing his own clothes, managing he is in a housement you in your home are managing a scenario with probably a different set of clothes or maybe no clothes at all sometimes. whereas as soon as you put it in a setting theatrical or film set then you are imposing an image. >> rose: but does it make intimacy harder? >> yes rdz what, theatre. >> honestly when you said you feel safer in theatre i was like whoa, because i feel the opposite. i feel much safer in film. because theatre there is no many unknowns. every night it's 900 unknowns. that are thrown into the mix. and in film, it's me and the actor and we're in the place, i can talk to you like-- i can just see, like that. and i can -- >> but then after you have
done that somebody goes away, cuts that, puts music over it, they can do anything you like to your performance after you left on a set wrchl in theatre at least it is you and the acker t is a live thing and we found-- especially with this play. >> rose: you like better having control and not giving it up to an editor. >> i think you feel more in control. sometimes the results are impressive and even better than you can imagine. you thought you were having a bad day and suddenly they cut it together and say wow that looks really good. theatre, it's a live thing and i think especially with this play we found the audience is very, very vocal in their responses and how, you know, one night they go against the doctor, the next night they go against morris and are not letting him get away with anything. very, very different even from one matinee to an evening. >> that is what makes it unsafe and exciting. just because it sun safe doesn't mean it is not exciting. i started in theatre, i study itsed theatre, went to july yard, i love it. but there are a lot of unknowns.
when you do theatre. and the energy of what it is you are in, you don't know where it can go. if someone can yell something out or you know. i remember one time we were doing something and would you notice someone in the front row. like there was a whole story. you were probably brought here by a secretary. >> rose: some lady in the front row just wept oh, gosh. >> what did she say. >> which moment was t i can't remember but i said something and she was like oh god, you could see where this is going and was like oh god. >> or sometimes the father gets a his like if he says something to me. >> rose: does it bother you at all? >> it's sort of an indication of where they're at, you know, that flock of birds out there. >> yeah. >> somehow becomes of one mind, you know. >> the mob mentallity. >> rose: in the world that we live in now, there's all kinds of blogs and if you do what i do and are you on conversation every-- television ef row day, morning, noon and night,
you get a lot of people. and someone said to me so wisely once they said not about me, i was looking at this horrible note, they said for a moment just consider the source. >> yes. >> rose: while they may be expressing these kind of bile ideas that kind of thing. did you always want, i mean because of july yard and because of the train-- julyi does ard, and because of the training, did you want fill because it was a different medium, because it was the american medium z you want to jump at that when it first came? >> you know, i just wanted to do everything. i was a little girl. i was a dancer. i was doing musicals. and you know, with this part i would have done-- i would have done it if it had come to me as a miniseries or a film, i really felt a connection to the character. so you know, after leaving school i, in fact, david and i, was one of my very first plays i did out of college,
david and i did a play together. i was doing theatre and i had only been making povies for about four and a half years. but i do find comfort and education in all the mediums, television, film and theatre. and i will continue to do all of them for that reason. >> rose: did you go to julliard on a scholarship funded by robin williams. >> yes, i did, amazing, huh, what a generous man. yes. yeah, i know, the first person to go to college in my family. and it was made possible because robin williams generously offers a scholarship because he's an alumni at julliard. and i have not met him yet. >> rose: you will after this a i guarantee you. >> i have been saying it a lot. i still haven't met him. part of me is expecting him to pop out from the curtain in one interview. >> rose: did you know he is in town today, he's in new york today. >> is he at the studio right now, charlie? >> rose: no, no, i know where he is will be at 5:00.
so how did you discover acting, you know from your family? >> i had always had a very, very active imagination. never did well in school. and my grand mother had been-- was a great hero of mine, growing up. and you know, i was-- i don't know why but i was very unhappy, like in photographs and stuff she would say why don't you smile. you have a beautiful smile. she took me to see joseph and at mazing technicolour dream coat when i was like seven years old. and there was a little girl on the stage. and my grandmother said this is their job, you know this is what they do. it is professional theatre. and i saw the little girl doing and as soon as i saw it wasn't, that's what i want to be when i grow up. it was that's what i am. i never had to make the decision. >> rose: it's not what i want to be, it's what i am. this is what i am. this is what i do all day. i pretend. >> rose: it reminded me of
the great story that, you know, when someone said i want to be a writer, that's not the question. do you want to write? that's the question, you know? you don't want to be something, you want to do something. >> true. >> rose: lincoln, daniel-day lewis. >> yes. >> rose: steven spielberg, sallie field, tony kushner wrote it. >> tommy lee jones. >> rose: brilliant. >> yeah. and a whole wealth of new york ackers,-- . >> rose: this is steven s that why? we have this-- spielberg made sure, wanted a bunch of new york actors for this or just so happened that these good actors had a new york base. >> i don't know how that came to pass but it was great to be there. >> rose: how was it as an experience? >> i have all these words that sound so high fall outin.
>> rose: try one. >> it was the word sack rement or the word referential or the word special is used to blythely. >> rose: i hear you. what was it about it made it that way? >> well, it's lincoln. >> rose: yes. >> and it's steven spielberg and it's tony kushner. and then you start going down the line, tommy jones, salliefield. and it's daniel-day lewis. and the day-to-day was unlike any experience i had taken part in, and particularly i think from daniel's and i don't really want to speak too his process or-- but what-- and steven in many ways augmented this day-to-day process in which we were in
1864. that's where. >> rose: that's where daniel was. >> yes, and you could choose to be there but if you didn't want throb you would remove yourself from whatever the energy of the room. but he brought to it such-- such precision and focus and why i say sack remental t was something very, very, what's the word, precious, you know. >> rose: to be cherished. >> to be invested and cherished. to investigate this man and this top eck at this moment. and all the other constituent parts being spielberg and dreamworks and all that. >> rose: and the relationship with all these people to lincoln and how that defined him. >> exactly. and doris's book team of rivals too, that was a real sort of linchpin. and so it was amazing. >> rose: would your character think of lincoln? >> he is ward, i believe
that he is ward came to really love and respect the man. they were from so different ---- . >> rose: they formed the team of rivals idea. >> yeah. but coming from the walks of life were so, so far apart. but you know lincoln would go over to he is ward's house of an evening and sit in his bed rom and they would talk. he would just wander across town and go to-- and they would spend time together and they would go to the theatre together. this is one thing i found out. lincoln went in 1 year he went to more than 100 plays. >> oh, wow. >> rose: god love him. >> we go by himself. he would just go out and see a play. and charlotte curbing who was a renowned actress at that time was a good friend of seward, so there was that culture going on. but to answer your question, there was the utmost respect between the two men. and i think this odd wonderful kind of love and respect between the two of them. >> rose: what did you learn about lincoln?
>> from daniel or-- . >> rose: the experience of being in this remarkable film, and therefore being on the set, therefore thinking about these characters, therefore listening to how steven saw it and how, you know, daniel acted it. >> a man of highest resolve and will. and humanity at the same time. >> rose: but at the same time pragmatic, political, a deal maker, machiavellian who had his eyes on the goal at all times. >> right. >> rose: it may go this way, this way and this way but he wanted to end up there and he knew he wanted to end up there. >> yeah. and his force of will, you know, in combination with his cleverness. >> rose: and the sadness of his home in part, lost his child. >> and that's the beautiful thing about the fill some they give this window into that sadness. >> rose: and the conflict with his wife who was smart
too. what happened to her? >> she was, had some form of manic depression. >> rose: has acting been everything you wanted it to be for you. >> yes. everything and more, yeah, i wanted it to be like going to school over and over and over again. i loved-- not the kind of school i grew up with, public school or-- science, i wanted it to be like becoming a fuller person over and over, and new experiences. and that's exactly what it's been. the people i've worked with, you know, every time i get to work with david which i hope this isn't the last time. i hope to work with dan again. it really, it's been a dream come true and it's a strange moment in your life when you realize that everything you had hoped for and wished for has come true. and that's what has happened. >> rose: sometimes i hear people say the reality is
bigger than the dream. you just said everything i've hoped for has come true. sometimes people say that i never imagined it would be this good. i mean, i was limb lit-- limited if my imagination as to the satisfaction and pleasure of doing what i wanted to do. >> hmmmm. >> rose: right? >> yeah. i mean i knew i was going to be happy as long as i was supporting myself acting. so of course it didn't-- i wasn't dreaming of like wearing-- it's nice, don't get me wrong but i wasn't dreaming of wearing really high fashion stuff at award shows. but i was dreaming about getting to do this for a living. and of course that's all the icing on the cake. so it is bigger than that, but when you dream it, you don't-- i always hoped and felt like it was going to be my life. but you never know for sure. you don't know if are you one of those kids when you say i'm going to be an actor
and people look at you like yeah, okay, kid. you don't-- you think-- . >> rose: they don't want to dissuade you but they but you know they don't believe. >> yeah so, i feel very fortunate. >> rose: take a look at this. this is where he warns you that more sis no good for you. here it is. >> what have you done, father what did mrs. montgomerie tell you. >> nothing i did not know before. >> mrs. montgomerie, my sister. >> yes, what did she say, have you spoken with her. >> she paid me a visit on my invitation. >> you see how painful this is for me, surely you will want me to know your reasons. >> he is a selfish idler. >> i know he loves me. >> i know that he doesn't. >> he tell me what you makes so you sure. >> my poor child i cannot tell you that. you must simply take my word for it. >> father, i can't. i can't. i love him. i have promised to marry him to stay by him no matter
what comes. >> so he forearmed himself by getting a promise like that you are being me contempt. >> do not abuse him, father. i any we shall marry quite soon. >> then it is no further concern of mine. >> so interesting because we, that was probably, that was a few weeks ago. it really does show that theatre is a growing, living, moving art. because that feels like that was so long ago. i am watching-- it's bizarre. because if he had taken last night's performance and that performance. >> rose: if you showed last night's performance adjacent to this,. >> i mean the bones are the same. >> rose: but what's different? >> i mean just-- . >> rose: what is it. >> go ahead, david. >> i don't know.
it's a toneal thing, a rhythmic thing. as you listen each other and somebody comes up with just-- jessica did a thing the other night, a scene on the couch where he is saying how much, how proud he is of her and she's saying no, don't waste your affection on me. you don't-- and there was this different inflection in what something she said. and it changed the energy in the scene, in a very subtle way, probably nobody-- but i felt it and she felt it. so that is why it is wonderfulfully live. and the audience who saw it there that night saw it only that moment. they didn't see these moments-- that is the wonderful, mutable thing about theatre. >> rose: exactly. >> that is why i think, why i consider it a safe place because it is anything can happen. and the audience is there willing it to happen in a way. >> rose: this is what i have been looking forward to. this is when you tell her she has little to offer men,
here it is. >> well, i suppose you will be going off with him any time now. >> yes, if he will have me. >> have you? oh, really, katherine. he ought to be very thankful to me. i've done a mighty good thing for him in taking you abroad. six months ago you were perhaps a little limited, a little rustic but now you have everything you have seen everything, you have appreciated everything. you will be a most entertaining companion. >> i will try to be. >> you will have to be very entertaining, indeed, my dear girl, your dayity and brilliance will have to make up the difference between the 10,000 a year will you have and the 30,000 he expects. >> he does not love me for that. >> rose: no? what else then, katherine. your beauty? your grace, your charm, your quick tongue, your subtle wit? >> he admires me.
>> rose: . >> katherine, i have been reasonable with you. i have tried not to be unkindment but to you it is time for you to realize the truth. how many women do you think he might have had in this town. >> he finds me pleasing. >> yes, i'm sure he does. a hundred are prettier, a thousand more clever but you have one virtue which outshines them all. >> what, what is that? >> your money. >> rose: so what what is your emotion when are you hearing that? and do you have to recapture that every night. >> yeah, that's the hard pa part also. because i love david. rdz this mean man is the father who seems to have so little respect for you. >> yeah. and i'm, you know, i'm a very happy person. jessica is a very happy person. but the thing is like at every point, every day at some point i'm going to have to feel that.
it just i guess it's-- what happens when a girl is raised her whole life on trying to make someone else happy and press someone else, and have the suspicion of i don't think he likes me. what mi doing wrong. maybe if i wear this dress he'll like me. no, he likes me, he likes me. and this is the moment where she realized everything i have thought for 30 years was right. he doesn't like me. it's crushing. it's your whole life. >> rose: is it like or admire or respect. >> well, catherine says right after this scene my father doesn't like me. which is even worse than admire or respect. >> rose: do you have to have that in your head, you know that she thinks, and what you have to do in the performance or is it just text, that you have to sort of communicate the fact so that she would reasonably believe he doesn't like me.
>> great question, charlie. because the play is in many ways it's a skim coat of all the stuff that we can't really bring to the surface of a relationships that's been going on for 30 years. that her reaction to this man's behavior over as children will, somehow we reinterpret them and their life in respect to of the way they've been treated. but then this man may also have his own crippling issues that weren't directly a result of her. and so that the interpretation between parent and child is something that's so mysterious and so complex that, and we can't really bring that to, you know, to the stage in depth that you know, that it might sing
more loudly so the play in a way is kind of a reduction of that kind of relationship. so but to answer your question i have to remain true to my construct of parent radioed-- parenthood and the times and in terms of-- i don't think doesn't love her but when you say these zingers, they come out as being these huge kind of black and white cudguls that i don't think to speak his own place in his world, you know, they get reinterrupted in that space between, you know, two people. so when she says he doesn't like me, well, like is such a amorphous word, you know. it's a very complex relationship. and i think that henry james has sort of touched on this
in a way that maybe he didn't knowment but we do know and today's world we see this, kind of psychological terrain. and if that can come across from the stage then the audience is going to have a different way of looking at it than they ever have. but yeah, i have to think she is not up to a standard, regardless of like, love, whatever, admiration, she's not up to a standard. and i'm trying to protect her from morris who i do believe. >> rose: you made a value judgement about that. >> i have made a value judgement. >> it's tough too because i have to make you not a liar when i'm acting. when you know, you're not clever. you're not whitty or you're dull and ugly, the play makes no sense if she is really lively, you know what i mean. there has to be things about catherine that are dull. and otherwise it just, you're just hurting her for
no reason. >> rose: right. >> it was interesting going through the play and picking out moments when we were clear that certain characters were speaking the truth and clear when it was their interruption. and there are so many, a myriad ways these characters perceive each other, that changes throughout the play. so the audience can configure this, how they-- they can say well i kind of believe him about what he says about morris but if you listen, she makes a pretty good case if you listen what the aunt says about catherine versus what the father says it's a different girlment and yet the same girl and we see her in different ways within ten minutes, two different scenes, she behaves differently. and so you know, i think you can safely as an actor ignore certain things that another character says about you because it is a perception, when we have the ears open and when you have them closed as a character, it's you know makes it very interesting to pick through, i think.
>> rose: were you a judge in the booker prize. >> i was. >> rose: see i can't imagine that how many books did you have to read. >> we read 145 novels. >> rose: and you have to read them as if this is the bestment you have to think of them -- >> the criteria-- is you are looking at the best work of fiction of the year so yeah, you read them all. >> rose: how did they come to select you? >> i have this background, i did english literature at cambridge so i suppose they thought here is an acker who might have a thing or two to say about some books and so i was invited on a late night review show, one of the few we have in the united kingdom. it was a bill of a dream come true just to be invited on that show, i had admired. >> rose: what is the show. >> it is called the review show, normally you go on and talk about a book or play or art gallery opening. and then they do one a year which is the booker, the man booker special where you look at the six books. so last year hi the great
honor of being asked to go on to that. read the six books and thought that at least two of them were terrible. and thought that the judges made some serious errors. thought nothing of it, went on the show and was very vocal. and a couple of weeks later i got a call from the guy who runs the pan booker prize saying we loved what you said, put your money where your mouth is. >> cut to reading 165 books later. >> rose: would you have time to read 165 books this year. in how long a period. >> it was, you have seven months to read the 145, and long list -- reread those. >> rose: you can do that. >> no problem. >> it was pretty insane. in a year when i was shooting the third series of downton and also produced the movie earlier last year and had a second child in may. yeah, you know, i tested the borders of a nervous breakdown this year. but we are through now and we're very, i'm delighted to
have selected the winner. but it's not something i will do again. >> rose: does cambridge have when you look at the history of cambridge especially review and all those people that came out of cambridge rather than oxford have more of a kind of theatrical tradition than oxford does? >> oxford i think has had something like 17 prime ministers come out of it. cambridge-- . >> rose: oxford produces prime ministers cambridge actors. >> generally. i mean you know, every director of the national theatre has come from cambridge, a lot of prime ministers from oxford. >> rose: every director came from cambridge. >> so far, yeah. yeah. that i'm sure is set to change soon. but i knew, i actively knew that cambridge was a good choice. i always wanted to be an actor. >> rose: always. >> i had interests in other things and actually a lot of actors that i've admired and respected came through that route because unlike at a drama school where you are surrounded by other want a be ackers which when are you 17 or 18 surrounding yourself with want a be
ackers is a difficult position to put yourself in, i was vouned by people who had gone on to be writers, directors, producers, doctors, lawyers, pilots, you know, the works. you are really surrounded by an interesting range of very bright people who are you know, come at it from all angles. so you know, for a while i regretted not having gone to drama school because you feel that that isth path. but is a path in itself and i'm pleased to have taken it. and it means you get chose tone read 145 novels in a year sometimes. >> rose: i have asked the two of them, do you think all of you, in the end do people go into acting for the same reason that somehow they look at it as a place that they can, that will take them somewhere to inhabit characters and explore life's questions whether it's love and relationships and a father daughter and all that? i mean -- >> for me it was a place, yeah, it was educational.
i mean i think i've learned more about maybe not myself but yeah, maybe. at least been disem boweled enough to say oh, and played vulnerable enough to discover things about one's self. but also about who we are, you know. it's who we. >> rose: we as the people or we as an individual. >> both, even as a species, you know, because the great writers are trying to discover something about that. i done think-- they-- want to write other than to explore something. >> rose: i've often wondered whether the people who do this are actors, directors, writers, playwrights. whether because they explore those things they're any better at it than the rest of us in terms of rage and jealousy and relationships and the capacity to love,
this sense of being able to respect a daughter or son, all those kinds of things. does understanding all those emotions make you any better at being a human being? >> that's a great question. i mean if you practice those things, yeah, like we do, practice them every night, something, a little drop of watt certificating to make a dent in your stones. >> rose: as soons i say that i also know friends in business who have been in analysis for 25 years. >> well. >> rose: you would think they would come about some understanding, you know, but they all say it informs their work too. >> it has. >> rose: they have all said that i will tell you an interesting story about becoming an actor. yesterday i had the great pleasure of interviewing david letterman because david is receiving one of the kennedy honors. he's an honoree this year. and he, you know, he grew up in indiana. and in high school did not
quite know, and thought he would end up going to some kind of trade school, literally trade school. didn't do well in school. he took a course in public speaking. and the idea of, and he knew within five minutes that that is what he wanted to do. >> wow. >> he wanted to be able to speak, i mean the experience of that changed his life. you know. and i always think of, i can remember what it was that made me so curious about you know the world around me so that the perfect place for me to be was sitting at a table talking about these kinds of things. and how lucky you are if you can find that. all of us found it pretty early, didn't we? >> relatively. that reminded me of-- . >> rose: before you went to college. >> murrow's journey, out of the lumber fields to washington state university, his teacher there, he was in a play and she recognized something. and from that moment on, and he attributes his career and his success to that woman
without discovered a young sort of strapping, inept relatively shy man who loved to tell stories. >> rose: yeah. >> and she formed him. i mean it's what you do. you bring people around this table, how many people sat around this table. >> rose: for 22 years. >> for 22 years, exploring ideas. and i means that's a real gift. >> rose: i tell you a story about this. that marlon brando was a fan of this program, the late marlon brando and he used to call me up. and he said you sit there every night and you listen to all that all these wise people. tell me what are you doing with it. i will no answer it is what you do. and you hope that one show influences another. and if you, because of the composite or the cum latif experience you come away with some sense to guide you,
you know, to where you are going. when i sat down with you i had no idea where this would go. it's a spontaneous experience. >> it's questions well, i think, it's asking questions. >> but it's tennis too. in other words, where i hit the ball will determine where you hit it back, you know, right? >> just like acting. like having a scene partner, not exactly knowing what the temperature of the scene is going to be but what they give you back, then you take that and-- . >> rose: that's a new word for me, the temperature of the scene. i want to close with this. we've seen this play, the hairest which i will give you on one of these cards in front of me as where you can go see it, i don't know that i have it here. tell me, tell me,. >> the walter kerr theatre g see it. we leave you because we've also talked about lincoln and seward with this portrayal. here it is from a movie
coming up soon called lincoln. >> well, we'll win the war, sir, it's inevitable, isn't it? >> you will begin the secretary term, imagine the possibilities peace will bring. why tarnish your invaluable lust we are a battle in the house. it's a rat's nest there. the same gang of talentless hicks and hacks that rejected the amendment ten months ago. we'll lose. >> i like our chances now. >> rose: so great, you know. and just to get up for a scene in which you are riding in a carriage talking to abraham lincoln. >> an believe me, you look at daniel-day and from the moment he walked on that set people are kind of like-- a ghost is walking. it was pretty extraordinary. >> rose: steven and doris concerns goodwin who was here yesterday said will you never again think of lincoln
without thinking of this image of him, the way he walks, you know, the voice, you know, the sense of sort of all that's around him, a sense of some wisdom at the centre. that had been said by-- fed by curiosity, going over to talk to seward, thank you, jess ca, a pleasure to meet you. >> wonderful to be on your show. >> thank you. >> nice to meet you. >> my friend, good to see you. >> thank you for joining us. see you next time. >> rose: i'm pleased to have all of them here at this table. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org ññññ